Agribusiness
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure and Make the 'Grid' More Reliable and Efficient PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:46
Georgia Loan Moves USDA Closer to Secretary's Smart Grid Goal

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that rural electric cooperative utilities in 10 states will receive loans to install smart grid technologies and make improvements to generation and transmission facilities. Examples of funding announced today include a $102.8 million guaranteed loan to the Jackson Electric Membership Corporation in Jefferson, GA, to build and improve over 850 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $7.2 million in smart grid projects.

"A 21st century electric grid is essential to America's ability to create jobs in the clean energy economy of the future." Vilsack said. "These investments enable consumers and businesses to better manage their use of electricity and help maintain affordable rates. Building transmission infrastructure that employs smart grid technologies will make it easier to add renewable sources of electricity into the grid and also improve reliability."

With this funding, USDA Rural Development moves closer to reaching Secretary Vilsack's goal to fund more than $250 million for Smart Grid technologies. Today's announcement includes support for nearly $20 million in Smart Grid technologies. For example, In Kentucky, Cumberland Valley Electric was selected to receive a $17.6 million guaranteed loan, including $2.2 million in smart grid projects. Funds will be used to build and improve 100 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

The $334 million in loans announced today are provided by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding helps electric utilities upgrade, expand, maintain and replace rural America's electric infrastructure. USDA Rural Development also funds energy conservation and renewable energy projects.

The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive USDA funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Georgia

  • Jackson Electric Membership Corporation – $102,800,000. Funding will be used to serve 8,656 consumers, build and improve 855 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements. The loan includes $7,218,525 in smart grid projects.

Kentucky

  • Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation – $12,000,000. Funding will be used to construct and improve 102 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $543,087 for smart grid projects.
  • Cumberland Valley Electric, Inc. – $17,608,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 100 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $2.2 million in smart grid projects.

Minnesota

  • Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative – $18,450,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 101 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan also includes $5.9 million in smart grid projects.

Missouri

  • Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative – $3,000,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 44 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska

  • Atchison-Holt Electric Cooperative – $5,000,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 62 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Nebraska

  • Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association – $7,839,000. Funding will be used to serve 113 consumers, build and improve 49 miles of distribution line, and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $1,823,200 in smart grid projects.

North Carolina

  • North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation – $33,822,000. Funding will be used to finance capital improvements at the Catawba nuclear Station Units 1 and 2.

Oklahoma

  • Southeastern Electric Cooperative, Inc. – $4,787,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 26 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements.

Virginia

  • Northern Neck Electric Cooperative – $14,337,000. Funds will be used to build and improve 88 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan includes $1.1 million for smart grid projects.

Washington

  • Public Utility District No. 1 of Jefferson County – $115,507,000. Funding will be used to build and improve 825 miles of distribution line and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $99,000 in smart grid projects.

Since taking office, the Obama administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

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Lt. Gov. Simon: Apply for federal farmers market grant PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Kara Beach   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:22

Farmers Market Promotion Program helps fund farmers markets, local food projects

SPRINGFIELD – May 3, 2012. An advocate for local foods, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is urging local food producers to apply for a federal grant that promotes farmers markets.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced the availability of $10 million in competitive grants for FY 2012 through the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). Grants are targeted at projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, community supported agriculture and road-side stands. The deadline to apply for FMPP funding is May 21.

“I encourage Illinois’ local food producers to take advantage of this opportunity to grow and gain access to new markets,” said Simon, the only statewide elected official from Southern Illinois. “As a state we spend more than 95 percent of our food dollars on products grown outside of Illinois. Strengthening our local food system will keep dollars in our local communities and help grow our economy.”

Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts or low-income areas where the percentage of the population living in poverty is 20 percent or above. Entities eligible to apply for grant funding include agricultural cooperatives, local governments and nonprofit corporations.

As chair of the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council Simon has advocated for expanded use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers markets. SNAP sales at farmers markets totaled nearly $70,000 in 2011, an increase of over 522 percent since 2009. The number of farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers certified to accept the Link cards that access SNAP benefits has increased from 35 in 2009 to 49 in 2011.

“SNAP use at farmers markets benefits the health of SNAP recipients, local economies, and farmers,” said USDA Food and Nutrition Service Midwest Regional Administrator Ollice Holden. "These grants will put resources into rural and urban economies, and help strengthen efforts to provide access to nutritious and affordable food."

In 2011, four grants from the FMPP were awarded to organizations in Illinois: the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, Food Works of Carbondale and Chicago organizations, Growing Home Inc., and Faith in Place. The SIU board is using a $81,000 grant to establish the Illinois Farmers Market Association, which will provide professional development, resources and support for farmers, markets and community members, including a farmers market manager training manual and a statewide database to connect farmers to markets. The association expects to start accepting members in January 2013.

“The Illinois Farmers Market Association will help provide resources and solutions to the challenges markets face in administering federal nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs,” said Pat Stieren, coordinator of the Illinois Farmers Market Association. “With over 20 percent of the population in Chicago living in ‘food deserts’ without access to fresh, healthy foods, and with 1 in 10 Illinoisans receiving SNAP benefits, creating a Farmers Market Association is a crucial step toward helping markets learn how to expand fresh food access and improving health outcomes while supporting local agriculture.”

For additional information on grant eligibility and how to apply, visit www.grants.gov.

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A Farm Bill for all of Rural America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:13

Last week the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the first farm bill in decades that provides no funding for rural community and economic development. Creating rural jobs and economic opportunities should be a Farm Bill priority. Without real commitment and investment, the Rural Microentrepreneur Program will shut down and stop creating jobs. Little help will be available for value-added agriculture. Jobs that would have been created won’t be there for the people of rural Iowa.

These are tough budgetary times. But as the Senate works to tighten Farm Bill spending, they should make choices that reflect America’s priorities. Investing in jobs for people who need them and in the future of America’s rural cities and small towns is one such priority.

Small and midsized farms should be another. But unlimited subsidies to some of the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners should not. Today, if one huge operation farmed all of Iowa, USDA would pay 60 percent of their premiums for insurance against falling crop prices and yields on every single acre in every year - even with record high crop prices and skyrocketing federal deficits.

Thankfully, the Senate Agriculture Committee closed loopholes that mega-farms use to evade caps on traditional farm payments. But they did nothing to rein in unlimited crop insurance subsidies and made no commitment to rural development.

Let’s see – unlimited subsidies for the nation’s largest farms or investments in jobs for rural people and a brighter future for their communities? The best choice is obvious.

 
Checkoff Invites Farmers to Help Tell Sustainability Story PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:50
Online Tool Compiles Data on U.S. Soy Production Best Practices to Show Customers

ST. LOUIS (May 3, 2012) – An investment of just a few minutes of time and a few clicks of the mouse can help farmers demonstrate the high sustainability performance of U.S. soy. The payoff could include helping to retain and increase all U.S. soybean farmers’ markets.

Some major customers of U.S. soy want to source sustainable ingredients for food, feed, fiber and biofuel.

The United Soybean Board (USB) and soy checkoff remain committed to helping U.S. soy farmers demonstrate their excellent sustainability performance. One new example of the effort is a checkoff partnership with the National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA) on an Internet-based questionnaire to help gather data to show U.S. soybean farmers already use sustainable management practices.

“We don’t want a list of standards U.S. farmers have to meet that are created by people who know nothing about today’s agriculture,” explains Wisconsin farmer Chuck Prellwitz, a former soy checkoff farmer-director and current NISA board member. “Instead, we want a way of measuring what farmers have already done to grow their products sustainably.”

Farmers can visit www.CoolBean.info to complete the confidential and anonymous Soybean Assessment Tool or Whole-Farm Assessment Tool questionnaires. Prellwitz encourages all U.S. farmers to participate.

The results will be segmented by region because best management practices are dependent on factors that vary regionally, such as soil, water, and weather. As one way of demonstrating soy’s sustainability performance, the checkoff and NISA could use the data to show U.S. soy customers the share of U.S. farmers who have adopted sustainable best management practices appropriate for their region.

“This is another example of a farmer-driven effort to show our customers that we’re sustainable before some non-agriculture group tells us what to do and how to do it,” says soy checkoff farmer-director Mary Lou Smith, who farms in southeastern Michigan and serves on USB’s Sustainability Initiative Leadership Team. “The goal is to compile more information to show that our agricultural practices are sustainable.”

The soy checkoff has already conducted an independent, third-party life-cycle assessment that demonstrates the sustainability performance of U.S. soy production and processing. The checkoff also continues to support the Fieldprint Calculator, another sustainability tool that U.S. farmers may use for free. This tool can show farmers the effects of various farm-management decisions on the sustainability performance of their farm, including the financial impacts of those decisions.

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.UnitedSoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UnitedSoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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ISU Scott County Extension Calendar PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:45
May 19, 2012: Master Gardener’s Dig and Divide Plant Sale, Scott County Extension Office-9:00 a.m.

May 22, 2012:  Master Gardener Summer Webinar Series, “Garden Goodness,” Scott County Extension Office-6:30 p.m.

June 1, 2012:  Commercial & Private Pesticide Applicator Testing, Scott County Extension Office-10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

June 26, 2012:  Master Gardener Summer Webinar Series, “Garden Goodness,” Scott County Extension Office- 6:30 p.m.

July 6, 2012:  Commercial & Private Pesticide Applicator Testing, Scott County Extension Office-10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

July 24, 2012:  Master Gardener Summer Webinar Series, “Garden Goodness,” Scott County Extension Office-6:30 p.m.

Visit our events calendar at our web site: http://dbs.extension.iastate.edu/calendar/











 
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